Barack to School!

It’s back to school season already. And what better way to start the year out than with an inspirational message from our President about how important it is to work hard and complete your education. Oh wait, those are socialist ideals… scratch that.

The notion that Obama’s plans to address school children tomorrow have somehow created a conservative backlash whereby parents are claiming the President has no right to talk to kids without parental approval is disturbing in its own right. The fact that many school administrators are giving credence to that concern is appalling. Minimally, because there was no similar backlash when Bush Sr. or Reagan made similar school addresses during their tenures. But more to the point, does every parent (or any parent) seriously think they get pre-approval rights to any message their kids hear? Look for just a moment at the crap your kids absorb from TV or the Interwebs and ask yourself how truly corrupting a Presidential message could be, even if it was a policy stump speech, which it isn’t.

It’s pretty hard to disagree with the President’s proposed message. Arguing that my kids shouldn’t hear anyone advocate hard work and education would be a little like railing against the persistent anti-drug propaganda they pepper the kids with. (Incidentally, no one asked my permission to teach them that either.) Still, this is the President we’re talking about here. Like him or his policies or not, he is the duly elected senior executive of our government. When he talks, everyone should listen—not necessarily agree, but listen. I would be thrilled if my kids came home from school energized, engaged, or even interested in politics, whether the message they heard agreed with my opinions or not. It would open the door for discussion and debate that would be educational for them, and maybe for me as well.

Yet this is a persistent fear we hear over and over again. That somehow exposing kids to ideas is a corrupting influence. There remains this notion that kids should be protected from socialist ideology, Harry Potter, evolution, and the like. And this is about as intellectually disingenuous as it gets. If your ideas or opinions can’t stand up to critical analysis or dissent, then they cannot stand. Our only chance at a future is if our children are intellectually curious. If they are able to absorb and analyze different viewpoints and arrive at defensible conclusions. Intellectual isolation and brainwashing are not alternatives to critical thinking skills.

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